Have you seen … Harbor Research

I’m writing an InformationSpan coverage report on emerging technology. It’s rapidly narrowed down to reviewing insight sources which are of use to technology strategists, who need to review emerging trends and novel technologies, and assess them for potential impact, and figure out what to pilot.

Among the major service providers, of course Gartner’s long established Emerging Trends and Technologies group led by Jackie Fenn holds the lead; I recently covered Jackie’s and Mark Raskino’s book Mastering the Hype Cycle. But the point of this post is to give readers a sneak preview of the report (it’s still far from finished) by highlighting a discovery.

Harbor Research reckon to focus on the “pervasive internet” or what Forrester call the X (for “Extended”) Internet – sometimes expressed as “Everything connected, everything communicating”. In writing my couple of short paragraphs, I signed up for their free access and downloaded a recent white paper called Designing the Future of Information. It’s my kind of paper. It’s strongly focussed. It covers a couple of novel technology developments, the academic groups which originated them (at MIT in this case), and their status as they come to market. It sets them in the wider context, it links to open standards, and it assesses (in this case, enthusiastically) their potential impact. It makes connections between them. And it suggests an impact from the synergy, which might not be seen looking at the technologies individually.

I’ve only one quibble, which is that the report doesn’t carry a date (except the year, in the copyright claim). This is a shame, since one of the things you need to know about a report like this is its topicality in months, not years. Otherwise, for a technology specialist, this is a rich resource. Have a look at Harbor!

Harbor Research is online at http://www.harborresearch.com/

Forrester get TechRadar on the road [updated]

One of Forrester’s acknowledged problems has always been how to compete with Gartner in the assessment of technology adoption. Everyone knows the Hype Cycle, though there’s varying understanding of how to use it. Technology adoption lifecycles go back over 50 years; they describe the adoption or acceptance of a new product or innovation.

Forrester haven’t had anything in this area. But now they do.

I’ve been aware of the development of Forrester’s TechRadar for some time; it was pre-launched last summer. This week’s IT First Look mailing highlights its emergence with three reports: mobile devices and management solutions; infrastructure virtualization; and extended supply chain applications.

Forrester prefer not to have TechRadar seen as their answer to the Hype Cycle, but its intention is to enhance their coverage in the technology watch area. So what are the differences and similarities?

First and foremost, remember that Hype Cycle describes industry and media perception of a technology, not its intrinsic capabilities or its actual value. Media presence holds a mirror to uptake and so helps judgements on pricing, on capability, and on supportability. But, for example, the trough of the Hype Cycle might be the right time to invest if you’re convinced of the value of a technology. Prices will likely be low, and resources relatively cheap. Conversely, if a new technology offers a significant potential advantage then invest in the Trigger stage. But be clear that prices will be on the up, knowledge scarce, and the technology itself possibly short lived. Not many people read the Hype Cycle this way!

Using the Wikipedia definition, Forrester’s Radar is not an adoption lifecycle in the same sense. It has a similar horizontal to the Hype Cycle; but even here there’s a difference. It goes right through the life cycle to final decline. On the vertical, though, it’s completely different and the curve shape therefore is different too. Forrester are charting their judgement of the potential for business value. And they split the chart according to likely maximum value. So, for example, in the supply chain TechRadar they see MRP as in decline; supply chain intelligence as reaching its maximum, high value; and advanced planning and scheduling as at its peak but of less overall value. Supply chain event management, they show, is still on the way up but won’t achieve great value even at its peak. And, as with the Hype Cycle, a time dimension is overlaid.

When I saw the first versions of TechRadar, I commented that it looked overly complex. I’m pleased to say that the final version appears a lot clearer. Users will need to invest time to figure out how to read these charts, and to get familiar with the standard table format for data in the reports. But the methodology’s good, and it will be worth it.

Oh, and (I added this to repair an omission) in typical Forrester fashion, you can download the data in a spreadsheet.

Meanwhile, there’s a lot of catching up to do. Gartner’s 2007 Hype Cycle summary “features more than 1,500 technologies and trends in 70 technology, topic and industry areas”! Maybe there should be a TechRadar for adoption cycles.


Introducing Forrester’s TechRadar Research Forrester Research, updated 15 Jan 2008
Forrester TechRadar: The Extended Supply Chain Application Ecosystem, Q2 2008 Forrester Research, 15 Apr 2008
Gartner’s Hype Cycle Special Report for 2007 Gartner, 1 Aug 2007
Understanding Gartner’s Hype Cycles, 2007 Gartner, 5 Jul 2007
Technology adoption lifecycle Wikipedia

Forrester and Gartner reports will not be visible in full without a membership subscription. TechRadar is a Forrester trademark.